Is the clinical relevance of drug-food and drug-herb interactions limited to grapefruit juice and Saint-John's Wort?
Pictures displaying drug-food (upper) drug-herbs (lower) and drug-dietary supplements (lower) interactions in clinical practice.
An interaction of drug with food, herbs, and dietary supplements is usually the consequence of a physical, chemical or physiologic relationship between a drug and a product consumed as food, nutritional supplement or over-the-counter medicinal plant. The current educational review aims at reminding to the prescribing physicians that the most clinically relevant drug-food interactions may not be strictly limited to those with grapefruit juice and with the Saint John's Wort herbal extract and may be responsible for changes in drug plasma concentrations, which in turn decrease efficacy or led to sometimes life-threatening toxicity. Common situations handled in clinical practice such as aging, concomitant medications, transplant recipients, patients with cancer, malnutrition, HIV infection and those receiving enteral or parenteral feeding may be at increased risk of drug-food or drug-herb interactions. Medications with narrow therapeutic index or potential life-threatening toxicity, e.g., the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioid analgesics, cardiovascular medications, warfarin, anticancer drugs and immunosuppressants may be at risk of significant drug-food interactions to occur. Despite the fact that considerable effort has been achieved to increase patient' and doctor's information and ability to anticipate their occurrence and consequences in clinical practice, a thorough and detailed health history and dietary recall are essential for identifying potential problems in order to optimize patient prescriptions and drug dosing on an individual basis as well as to increase the treatment risk/benefit ratio.